battlefield

My body is a disaster.

That is what I heard in my head over and over again in the days after giving birth to Teapot.

I’d required a C-section, so I was expecting the slash across my abdomen that, despite healing remarkably well, was ugly and purple and held together with staples at first, and then three simple pieces of tape upon discharge. But things did not work the way they were supposed to. Dudes, you use your core for everything. And when those abdominal muscles get severed – even surgically severed with thoughtful precision – your body just doesn’t work properly.

Aside from the expected difficulties of (but not limited to) standing up straight, lying down, going to the washroom, stepping out of the shower, pushing the stroller, reaching, putting on pants, putting on socks, kneeling, laughing, and sneezing, there was the unexpected challenge of sitting down.

I was the queen of leaning for the first two weeks after we got home. Sometimes I would perch, if I was feeling good. Chairs were evil. Our couch was evil. Our bed was evil. Nursing was hell, because I couldn’t find a comfortable seated position that I could maintain for any length of time. Eventually, a miracle: I discovered that our stocky sidetable, used merely to store two magazines, Dominion, and my flat-iron, was the perfect height for actual sitting. Actual sitting! I never realized how much I took actual sitting for granted.

But I don’t have to see that scar every day if I don’t want to.

What continued to bother me months after Teapot was born was the collection of bruises and needlemark-scars on my left arm. One nurse couldn’t find a vein at first (I have easy veins; she was an idiot) and then she missed the mark completely but didn’t realize her error until I started complaining; the line had started infusing fluid interstitially. “I don’t think it’s supposed to hurt,” I said. It wasn’t supposed to hurt. And it bruised. Oh, did it bruise magnificently. The mess of purple and green bruising scared small children and seniors at the mall days later. I also had to get a shot of Fragmin in the back of that same arm to keep from getting clots while I lay in bed recovering from the C-section. And that one bruised too.

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I used to look at the slowly healing marks and ask Teapot’s dad if they would go away some day. He would tell me of course. Six months out, the bruising is long gone. But the needlemarks where the idiot nurse stuck me twice still remain. Some days,  they’re a traumatic reminder of what I went through with Teapot’s dad to get Teapot here safely. And other days, they’re just a reminder.

For What Binds Us

Jane Hirshfield

There are names for what binds us:
strong forces, weak forces.
Look around, you can see them:
the skin that forms in a half-empty cup,
nails rusting into the places they join,
joints dovetailed on their own weight.
The way things stay so solidly
wherever they’ve been set down—
and gravity, scientists say, is weak.

And see how the flesh grows back
across a wound, with a great vehemence,
more strong
than the simple, untested surface before.
There’s a name for it on horses,
when it comes back darker and raised: proud flesh,

as all flesh,
is proud of its wounds, wears them
as honors given out after battle,
small triumphs pinned to the chest—

And when two people have loved each other
see how it is like a
scar between their bodies,
stronger, darker, and proud;
how the black cord makes of them a single fabric
that nothing can tear or mend.

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